Reviews: Sky Fall
While I have seen pieces of one of the Connery films (and of which one, I don't know), this was the first Bond movie I'd ever seen all the way through. I'm well aware of the popular image of James Bond, but I wasn't quite sure what to expect, given my lack of familiarity with the source content. Needless to say, I was quite surprised with this movie, but not entirely displeased. What I liked:
- The performances were all brilliant. Every last one. What surprised me most about it, though, was how understated the acting was. It was quite a bit more believable than I was expecting, and thus quite a bit more effective as well.
- Presentation. As I understand is usually expected, the score was fantastic. The cinematography was excellent as well. I always understood the basics of what was going on, no matter how frantic the scene.
- In terms of story, I appreciated the use of literary theming they had going on with the whole "old vs. new" concept. Heavy-handed as it may have been, it's still not something you see a lot of in your average action flick, especially since it's given the ambiguity treatment, because while the central protagonists are ultimately on the "old" side, Bond fails to protect his memories, as his house is destroyed, or his boss, the shining proponent of the old ways the MI 6 uses. I just wish they defined more clearly what they meant by "old" and "new"
- Similarly, the villain was one of the more intimidating ones I've seen in cinema. While I've seen the comparisons to the Joker, Silva here doesn't have a large history or name recognition to draw from, and still managed to leave quite the lasting impression on me. Nevermind that I haven't seen the Nolan Batman films either.
- The opening could have been done better. The scene goes on for quite awhile, and while it does involve numerous well-shot action scenes, they don't explain what's going on until much later, making it hard to care.
- The final scene with Q has him trying to divert Silva with a false computer trail. This plot thread is then unceremoniously dropped and never mentioned again.
I heard great things about this film, so going in I had big expectations. And boy did it fail to live up to the hype. A very good thing that the series as a whole is doing is that they're taking the movies in a very different direction from Fleming's original concept - less end-of-the-world campy and more real-world espionage - which IMO is a very, very, good thing. The old so-called 'classics' that people rave about never made any kind of sense whatsoever. Remember Moonraker? Noah's Ark in space? Oh, boy. The film's problem, and I think most people would agree, is the really, really slow pace of its first half. We don't go to Bond movies for their artistic value - we want to see some action and HSQ and shit blowing up. There's a really good opening sequence for that, followed by what I think is the best title song in the entire Bond franchise, and then...yawn. Talk, talk, talk. By halftime Javier finally shows up on screen (in what I think is the lamest entrance for any villain in the entire Bond franchise, but Javier being Javier he pulls it off) and the action picks up a bit. Then Silver (Javier) lets himself get captured as part of the plan, breaks out, wreaks havoc.... and then we learn that Bond came from a rich family in Scotland... and his parents were killed when he was a little boy... and he was raised by the family gamekeeper... then he decided to become a spy and fight crime... hang on, did I walk into the wrong movie? Any second there I was expecting to see Morgan Freeman show up with a bat-suit and cape for Craig. That's what I really hated about this film: it was openly ripping off Nolan's TDK. The Xanatos-type villain, his uncontrollable chaotic style, even that one particular shot of Silver, silhouetted against the burning mansion behind him - remind you of a scene with our favourite Monster Clown? And yeah, we could've done without all the Oedipal subtext, too. Good climax, with some good visuals. The burning bungalow makes for a great centerpiece as the action comes to an end. Could be said to be better than Quantum, but definitely not better Casino. Overall 6.5/10.
Spoilers—ye be warned
I love spy fiction, and no one does it better than Bond, although the character plain annoys me. Skyfall is a perfectly adequate entry in, a fun Craig-era Bond which continues everything we’ve come to expect from the franchise at this point, all the while moving back to the original sombre Connery flavour. Ridiculousness is never far from the screen, though, especially when it comes to the ladies. Bond girl Severine, ambushed in the shower, murmurs to Bond that she feels naked without her gun. As it happens, I have heard this sentiment before, and it did not come from a gut-wrenchingly beautiful Broken Bird Frenchwoman, but from a plain-spoken hatchet-faced farmer woman of about seventy. Later, the villain shoots the girl in a sadistic display of cruelty which would have been more convincing if Bond hadn’t then immediately mowed down everyone in the area. If it was so easy for him, why didn't he do it ten seconds previous, and save the life of this girl who trusted him? This entry, however, solidifies something that we had a hint of in previous Craig-era Bond movies—that the real Bond girl is Judi Dench’s M, the only woman Bond treats with consistent respect, love, and chivalry, though the dynamic is filial. Unfortunately, this leads to the fate of all Bond girls, especially those he genuinely cares for. Still, before it ends, M’s relationship with him shows that Bond actually is capable of a mature relationship with a woman. In a series littered with disposable beauties, M’s death comes as a shock.
I hate Casino Royale less, now it pathed the way for Skyfall
I will agree that old Bond movies need something of a shake-up, they were beginning to feel like cheap knock-offs of Bond movies. But Casino Royale failed me. There are two factors things that cannot change about a Bond film, first it must feel like nothing else out there and secondly guys have to want to be like Bond. And I'm not sure many people wanted to be the guy strapped to a chair having their privates whipped with a knotted rope. Skyfall fixes all of that. Now Bond leaps through the jagged whole of a train and straightens his cuffs. His breakdowns involve having sex with beautiful women and doing shots with a scorpion on his wrist. He puts €4 million on red and doesn't look at explosions. More importantly it felt unique to itself. People kept comparing Casino Royale with the Bourne films but there is nothing Skyfall compares to except Bond. Outrageous, clever, stylish, smooth this is Bond for a new age because it no longer feels like Bond tropes but something so right for the tone of the film. When the theme music started it felt like the film had earned it's right to play it. I imagine this is what it must have felt like for the people who saw the first Bond film when it was released and totally appropriate for the culture. Skyfall is a bond film reimagined as a Bond film. The modern sensibilities add a slightly serious undertone and gives it some intellectual and character weight. It feels like things are happening to these people and that they're people who change. The plot is the perfect level of complicated and none of this gets in the way of the fun. The cast were excellent and this film was absolutely beautiful to watch and hear. It also captured exactly where the British identity is at at the moment, a blending of an awe-filled heritage with a modern vibe. Computers amongst stone arches So those of you who liked Casino Royale were presumably okay with the new direction with Daniel Craig already, this review is basically to say that for the people who weren't okay with it, Skyfall is very likely to bring you back. Finally, three nitpicks. 1. There was a death towards the end that felt underplayed 2. They said England when they meant Britain. Bond is Scottish, there's no way he'd put up with 'English Secret Service' nonsense =D 3. The villain deformity felt like checklist. Wasn't relevant
The End of an Era
Casino Royale was a reboot, plain and simple, stripping Bond back to his most basic elements and discarding much of the old Bond baggage. It found a balance between the suave superspy, laden with gadgets and perfect hair, and the rough-and-tumble kineticism of The Bourne Series. Quantum of Solace swung too far in the new direction, and Skyfall makes a brilliant correction... but in doing so, swerves perilously close to the old ways. The best thing about Casino Royale was its minimalism: not just because it's an Origins Episode, but in how it approached Bond. All it contains is M, a tuxedo and Vesper. The scope is very personal, but this strengthens the film, and the next two Craig films keep that focus. (It should be pointed out that I think Quantum is underrated. We rightly decried the Jitter Cam, but everything else about it is pretty solid.) Daniel Craig plays Bond solitary, nasty, brutish and short, putting an edge on the character that works well in our Darker and Edgier zeitgeist. The villains are genuinely sinister, striking the right balance between groundedness and eccentricity; Bardem's Raoul Silva is unquestionably the best of the lot. Skyfall being the 50th-anniversary milestone, callbacks and shout-outs were inevitable, and we get a new Moneypenny, Q and (thanks to Judi Dench's retirement) M. They are all played well and interestingly, which bodes well for the future, because—believe or not—I believe the franchise now rests on their shoulders, not Bond's. The strength of the Craig movies is their lack of mythos—their willingness to let Bond operate without being laden down by gadgetry and tradition and characters who are little more than Continuity Gags. And these characters aren't continuity gags: they are active and plot-relevant, and make the film better by their inclusion. It's the right direction to go. Craig has shown us that Bond can learn new tricks; he has 007 in exciting directions. If Q, Moneypenny and M are allowed to do the same, the franchise is safe for (God willing) 50 years more. If they don't, Bond's 24th outing may well be his last. But either way, it's the end of an era. This film is the Genre-Killer for Tuxedo and Martini; all that remains to be seen is whether Eon Productions itself catches on.
Best Bond Ever?
Now I always have held a soft spot for Sean Connery's James Bond. Dr. No is probably one of my favorite movies of all time. As a person who is not really into the Bond phenomenon as much as some other people I know, I was neutral while going to see this movie, as clean of a slate as one can expect to keep. Everything about the first fifteen minutes blew me away, the action prologue that led to the opening sequence was brilliant, the opening song was brilliant. The acting remained splendid throughout, I feel that people tend to not pay much attention to acting in Bond films, but Craig brings that special something to the role that Pierce Brosnan and Roger Moore and Timothy Dalton didn't bring. In a way, his Bond feels much closer to the Sean Connery version despite being completely different. Javier Bardem and Judi Dench are brilliant and along with Craig, they carry 'Skyfall' on their shoulders, standing tall, keeping the movie from crumbling. The plot is not that great to be honest, but then again, maybe its not about the plot, the movie places more importance on M's role, unlike the previous movies, in this one M drives the plot, and I think that's brilliant. Javier Bardem's character is more similar to Bond than anyone would think, which was also helpful in contributing to Bond's character in this film. The problem is that it runs far too long and loses steam around the climax, but its emotional enough to make me care about it. The movie also has that classic 60's bond feel to it, and someone who's seen Sean Connery's version of Bond will know exactly what I am talking about. Overall, this movie is amazing. Compared to some of the trash that hollywood churns out every year, we can look forward to proper films like these, its well written, acted, directed and shot. Two thumbs up, go watch this movie if you haven't yet. Is Craig the best Bond ever? I'd say he ties with Connery, is 'Skyfall' the best Bond film ever, well..'Dr No' can never be replaced.
This is a Bond Film for the ages, as much a celebration of 50 years of films but also a study of why we love them. This is not only a story about Bond, this is a story about M. For too long she has simply been Bond's boss; witty and awesome in that stoic British way. But in this film we see a different side of her, a glimpse inside her mind, and it's amazing. We see a 007 who has lost his touch after near death, but then gains it back in an epic way. We see the tragic story of an excellent villain, and we actually question some of MI 6's procedures. And we finally see Bond's former home. None of this is done in a sappy way, none of it makes the characters seem "tortured" in the typical Hollywood way. We see just enough to get a better sense of who they are, and they continue on despite their troubles, and this film is all the better for it. All this is framed by excellent performances by prominent actors and actresses, great writing, stunning cinematography and action, classic Bond wit and atmosphere and more awesome references than you could shoot a PPK at. This is truly one of the greatest Bond films of all time, lovingly crafted and a treat for Bond fans of every generation. 10/10.
Remember when Bond films used to be fun? Skyfall is nostalgic for those times, but its script reminds me, more than anything else, of Die Hard 4. It's the story of an "old fashioned" hero (Skyfall uses that term a hundred times or so) who has to take on a modern day Hollywood hacker with a grudge. In other words, it's another ham fisted attempt to depict the contemporary computer age, by writers who don't seem to know how computers work, for an audience which doesn't even care. I might as well get the other bad things out of the way first. The writing is clunky, with melodrama and jokes being cringe worthy, even by Bond standards: "What were you expecting, Bond? An exploding pen?" says Q, with an embarrassingly tacky nod and a wink. Naomie Harris' character does nothing for almost the entire movie except hang around like a fart in a bus shelter, and the plot holes - oh the plot holes. This review is titled "half bad". The other half of the movie is good. Specifically, the second half of the movie. After they finally introduce the villain, the movie starts to have a bit more fun. There are hints of the Joker in Javier Bardem's maniacal, tortured and impossibly well prepared villain, and though he could have done without the cornball Oedipal elements, it works for the most part. The action is punchy, grandiose, and excellent - especially during the climax, with the hacking elements getting left by the wayside and the movie going all Home Alone. I liked that a lot. And I also liked watching Bérénice Marlohe's Dragon Lady smoke cigarettes - but I think Skyfall might get in trouble for that. After Quantum of Solace, I can forgive Skyfall for quite a lot. It no way lives up to the hyperbolic "Best Bond Ever" quotes you hear after every Bond movie released, but then, when have they? Ironically, they probably never said such a thing during Goldfinger's release. Ultimately, Skyfall is probably going to end up being a forgettable Bond movie in the long run, but in the mean time I recommend you give it a watch.